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Shadow of the Demon Lord
Publisher: Schwalb Entertainment
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/21/2020 12:44:21

Dark fantasy in a brutal world - a Mephisto review

Shadow of the Demon Lord

For the world of Urd the end is near. The mighty empire crumbled after its army of orc slaves has killed the emperor in a bloody uprising. But this civil war is only a symptom of a much worse truth: the shadow of the demon lord has fallen on Urd, and the terrible entity of the void is pressing to destroy the world. The cracks between the worlds are still too small for the Demon Lord himself to break through, but his influence is continually expanding...

Even with the significant threat in the background, at first Shadow of the Demon Lord seems like just another fantasy roleplaying game in which daring heroes face the forces of evil. However, if you take a closer look at the roleplaying game, you quickly realize that at least heroes are less than radiant. Even the selection of races for the player characters is not the typical standard. While humans and dwarves are certainly found in most fantasy roleplaying games, there are also unusual candidates: Goblins - outcasts of the fairy folk who live in the dirt and have disgusting habits; Orcs - the bestial slave soldiers who have fought for their independence; Clockworks - mechanical creatures powered by stolen souls and changelings that can change their appearance. The game statistics are not determined by the roll of dice but are fixed. Physical traits, strange habits and backgrounds can be rolled to emphasize further that the player characters also have their dark sides.

The characters start at level 0, with the whole group always advancing one level - up to the maximum of level 10. The game is designed so that at level 0, the characters are ordinary people who have regular professions. From level 1, players choose an apprentice path that includes the usual classes such as warrior, priest, rogue and warrior. At the next levels, expert and master paths are added, which further develop the character and give them special abilities or access to individual magic schools. These career paths are not hierarchical, but the player can choose freely: A character who started as a warrior can also learn magic later. Magic is divided into a vast arsenal of different schools, each with their own spells and in some cases special rules. Some schools change the personality or appearance of a character - and some evil schools corrupt it. Despite all the advancements, the characters always have a limited number of health points and are also threatened by corruption and madness, which can make life even harder for them.

Many of the rule mechanisms are based on D&D and Warhammer and developed further in a meaningful way. For example, there are advantage and disadvantage dice, which are included as d6 with the standard d20 roll.

The game world is presented with a wide range of regions and challenges. Rules, tips for the gamemaster and the inevitable bestiary round off the book. The book's illustrations make it clear that Shadow of the Demon Lord is a tough setting, and the game starts by stating very clearly that the player characters not only have a good chance of dying, but that their death is definitely a relevant game element. The world is dirty, ugly and brutal, and there is little room for shining heroes.

Thus, Shadow of the Demon Lord succeeds in carving out its own niche in the broad field of fantasy setting. From my point of view, this is a unique roleplaying game. The rules are coherent, the background is exciting, and the game has its own flair. However, Shadow of the Demon Lord is certainly not a roleplaying game for everyone, because of the very dark and drastically brutal world (both in description and illustration). The clear message that players have only little chances here will not please every gaming group. Friendly fantasy is something else, but here players will find a very exciting and also quite easy to learn challenge (which is probably brutal enough to kill the player characters often).

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadow of the Demon Lord
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Liminal
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/16/2020 01:01:00

Supernatural crews in a European world of darkness - a Mephisto review

Liminal

Besides the world, as most people know it, there is a hidden world. In this world, magic and monsters exist. While vampires, ghosts, and fairy creatures are part of the hidden world, there are also the Liminals, who sit on the border between both worlds. They do not belong to the hidden world, but they are also not completely human or know too much. They are magicians, werewolves without packs, dhampirs, changelings, or simply people who have come into contact with the hidden world and now know the truth. And as liminals, they stand between the worlds.

In the roleplaying game Liminal, the players take on the role of the same name at the border between the normal world and its mystical side. Liminal assumes that the players form a so-called crew, which solves cases in the world of the supernatural. Because of their position at the interface between the two worlds, Liminals can act as mediators. Beyond that, the liminals are a very mixed bunch. There are, for example, the academic magicians of the Council of Merlin, who form a very exclusive circle and who distinguish themselves from the "alley magicians." Then again, there are changelings who grew up as fairy creatures in the world of humans or as humans in the world of fairies. Dhampirs are vampires who have not yet completely lost control and have been able to preserve their human side. Werewolves without a pack join the Liminals. Even ordinary people belong to them—investigators or scholars who have learned about the hidden world. There are people who are in the service of one of the organizations of the hidden world or who, like the Order of St. Bede or the policemen of the P Division, face its dangers. The character concepts can be very varied, but the central idea is that these individual persons can only exist as a team, as a crew, on the edge of the hidden world, and so cooperation is possible and necessary.

The rules of Liminal is very simple: you roll two d6s and add the skill value and possible bonuses to this result. This way, you have to beat a minimum difficulty. If you exceed it by more than five points, you have achieved a critical success. If the roll fails, it is possible that the test simply failed or leads to unpleasant "side effects": the character takes damage or simply takes much longer. Players choose a drive and a focus for their characters, which indicates where their specialty lies. Skills and traits also define the characters. The traits are a mixture of supernatural powers and other benefits. For supernatural beings, there may also be limitations, which give them the chance to acquire additional traits. Apart from a good range of skills, the differentiation lies in the traits. These also serve to determine whether a character might be a werewolf or a mage. Because traits (and limitations) can be chosen individually, not every werewolf or mage is the same and can be adjusted regarding their supernatural characteristics. In addition, there are traits that simply make a character better in certain areas, so that he/she has an artifact or is very well-read, for example. Magic is divided into different schools, which have to be learned separately and teach magic skills in a certain area. In addition, traits acquired in addition to these magic schools can expand the possibilities here.

While the rule system is simple, and the traits allow you to create very individual characters, much of the book's focus is on the background. Liminal offers a world with vampires, werewolves, ghosts, mages, fairy creatures, and much more. Even though this range reminds of the World of Darkness, Liminal conveys the game world with a completely different flair. The number of supernatural beings is much more limited, and their power, although substantial, does not result in global conspiracies. The game, which presents England as the default setting, therefore feels less directly "American" and more subtly "European." Even if there is some kind of inquisition with the Order of St. Bede, it does not have the power of a 2nd Inquisition in Vampire. The vampires also operate as local nests rather than as global sects. The rulebook also provides two example cases, and several cases are available as extensions. The unique thing is that these cases are described very efficiently so that the average adventure has only ten pages.

From my point of view, Liminal is a fascinating done roleplaying game. The background of the hidden world may remind superficially of the World of Darkness, but offers its own flair and is much more subtle. Due to the freer character creation system, the player characters can be designed individually, so that even the abilities of a werewolf in the player's group can differ fundamentally from those of other werewolves. The background offers many chances to integrate the characters into the game, because even if the organizations are less powerful and comprehensive, the Council of Merlin or the werewolves of the Jaeger family, for example, offer clear points of contact with their ideas. The system of rules is simple and reminds a bit of Powered by the Apocalypse. The concept of short and compact adventures is, in my opinion, an excellent approach, which offers gamemasters a quick start and possibilities for individual modifications. It should not remain unmentioned that Liminal was illustrated very atmospherically and that the photos, often transformed into drawings, leave a very fitting impression. Liminal successfully combines a simple and fast game with a wide range of possible characters and a coherent and atmospheric - and very European - background to a recommendable roleplaying game.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Liminal
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Free From the Yoke
Publisher: UFO Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 14:08:50

Rebuilding a country with mighty houses - a Mephisto review

Free from the yoke

Free from the yoke is an expansion for Legacy that offers another alternative scenario for roleplaying. The focus of Free from the yoke is not the rebuilding of civilization after a great catastrophe in the future. This time the background is a medieval world. The setting is a country that has just shed the shackles of a vast, foreign empire and is trying to rebuild after the struggle for freedom. On the organizational level, there are several large houses with a lot of power both during the occupation by the empire and after its fall. For example, there are the Brethren of the Sea Serpent, a strong naval power, the Glorious Merchant Republic, a mixture of guild and trading house, or the Church of the Forgotten Land, a foreign faith that has taken root. Besides the houses, which have their usual playbooks, there is also the character level again, which is occupied by fighters, vagabonds, and scholars.

As with Legacy, it's all about how the houses want to build a new society after the fall. It is important to know that although the empire was defeated here, it still exists. As is usual for Legacy, a map of the land is created during play, and already during character creation, the houses can set certain landmarks, which change during the game, since a large time frame is also used here. Also, as with Legacy, there are the resources, which are measured for the houses in surplus or need. These resources are, for example, necessary to advance projects and, thus, further development. A unique feature of the game is the so-called Arbiter. He is the one who fought back the empire and is, therefore, at the center of the new order. The great houses work together with him (or against him) and also vie for his favor. The influence of the Arbiter is measured with two statistics. They show how strong his control of the country and how great the unrest is. Unusual for Legacy is that there are also three playbooks for the Arbiter, each of which gives the game its own character. The Arbiter also has its so-called agents at the character level.

Free from the yoke takes its inspiration from Russian history and legends according to its own statements. At some points, I felt a little bit reminded of the power struggles in Game of Thrones. The houses and their champions offer a broad range and always also the possibility to create them very individually beyond the basics. The setting of a fantasy realm, which also includes mysterious magic, gives Legacy a unique setting of its own and makes it more accessible to players who don't like the more futuristic scenarios. The idea that the Arbiter is a central game master figure is also an exciting addition.

I think that Free from the yoke is an exciting alternative setting for Legacy, which appeals especially to those players who sometimes want to control the destiny of a medieval country through a large house - and sometimes want to work together for bigger goals and sometimes want to betray the others for their personal advantage. For those who have rebuilt enough civilizations in the future (or who are not quite so familiar with the future), Free from the yoke is the ideal setting for Legacy.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Free From the Yoke
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Legacy: Worldfall (Worlds of Legacy 5) PDF
Publisher: UFO Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 14:05:42

New start on a new world - a Mephisto review

Worldfall

Worldfall is another world for Legacy that offers a science fiction setting. The idea here is that the player characters belong to a group of colonists who dare to make a new beginning on a foreign planet. Whether this planet is an idyllic place or the characters have crashed into a world hostile to life is up to the players. The focus of the game is on how the various cabals shape the new colony and what kind of civilization will emerge. Therefore, political intrigues have greater importance than military conflicts. The first great miracle to be built is the Constitutional Congress, which shapes the constitution and, depending on its influence, gives players the opportunity to define so-called positive and negative liberties. Examples are the establishment of national parks, freedom of the press, and the right to bear arms. Besides, the corresponding cabal is given influence over this area and thus special rules. The player, e.g., who has campaigned for the national parks, also holds the national park administration. Depending on whether the government is more democratic or authoritarian, there are further modifications.

The cabals as organizations cover a broad spectrum, from a church organization to an artists' collective to the former officers' class. As before, all cabals thus have their own features and characteristics. Also, there are various playbooks for the respective characters, which often fit very well to certain cabals, but explicitly allow unusual combinations. One special cabal, Worldsoul, offers the possibility to embody the living planet and thus bring a faction into play that is clearly different from the others.

Even though I liked the basic theme - namely the colonization of a foreign planet with different power groups that have to fight together - the partly comic style was not really my cup of tea. However, if you as a player want to experience what it's like to run your own colony and see how it develops (which, as with Legacy, will also manifest itself on the corresponding map, where new buildings and other things keep popping up), you'll find a setting that is less gloomy than the classic Legacy.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legacy: Worldfall (Worlds of Legacy 5) PDF
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Worlds of Legacy: Rhapsody of Blood: Choir of Souls
Publisher: UFO Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 14:03:06

New heroes for the fight against evil - a Mephisto review

Choir of Souls

The small expansion Choir of Souls delivers seven new playbooks for Rhapsody of Blood. Assassin, Captain, Joker, Knight, Mascot, Medic, and Professor offer new roles in the fight against evil and expand the range of characters with a few new ideas - no more and no less - but at what I consider to be a comparatively high price.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Worlds of Legacy: Rhapsody of Blood: Choir of Souls
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Legacy: Wasteland Almanac
Publisher: UFO Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 14:01:17

Strange ideas for a strange world - a Mephisto review

Wasteland Almanac

The Wasteland Almanac is a sourcebook for Legacy that promises unusual encounters in a world distorted by chaos - in other words: it is a toolbox with 60 ideas about places, artifacts, and threats (20 each). All these entries are described in a few lines and rounded off with a few questions to stimulate the imagination of the game master. The book covers a wide range of bizarre, threatening, and sometimes funny ideas that can either be used directly within your campaign or motivate you to develop your own ideas. What most of the ideas have in common is that they are both puzzling and very strange. It becomes obvious that the world of Legacy was already much more advanced before the downfall than ours, or has clearly moved away from it. For example, there is an idea about finding bicycles, which would be a great technical achievement - if someone still knew how to ride them.

Those who get this book with the expectation to find a lot of material for direct use in their campaign will probably be disappointed, as the ideas still hold many puzzles and questions. As a source of inspiration, however, the Almanac is an excellent tool. It is just a pity that there are only a few illustrations here.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legacy: Wasteland Almanac
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The Art of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins
Publisher: UFO Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 13:59:37

Visual inspiration for a life among the ruins - a Mephisto review

The Art of Legacy

Unsurprisingly, the content of the Art Book on Legacy is primarily a compilation of the various illustrations from the rulebook, but also from sourcebooks and the first edition of the roleplaying game. In some cases, readers will also find the description of the illustration, as well as various design stages that led to the final result.

Even if various illustrations may already be familiar to the inclined reader of the rulebook, the art book with its landscape format gives a beautiful impression of the manifold ideas that have been realized here. The mixture of ruins, futuristic technology, partly monstrous creatures, and enigmatic backgrounds inspires you to develop your own mysterious (and sometimes maybe a bit bizarre) setting. Various motives challenge the viewer to find his personal stories to what he has seen.

By putting the illustrations together, The Art of Legacy offers an interesting introduction to the possible worlds of Legacy. The book can inspire players and game masters to create their own world of Legacy. Although the illustrations shown here from the first edition a quite good, the comparison emphasizes how much the new illustrations inspire the imagination. Personally, I really liked the art book, and it made me want to play Legacy even more.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Art of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins
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Achtung! Cthulhu - 7th edition Investigator's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 13:57:32

Fighting the Great Old Ones in a secret war - a Mephisto review

Achtung! Cthulhu 7th Edition

The horror of the Great Old Ones of the Cthulhu mythos is timeless, and various roleplaying games have covered the fight against this horror from the Stone Age to the distant future. Achtung! Cthulhu takes the plot from the primary setting of the '20s and '30s further into World War II.

Achtung! Cthulhu focuses on the secret war, in which the horrors of the mythos play a role on the battlefields. The world is not only threatened by the horrors of war. The player characters are recruited by the mysterious secret Section M, which fights for the Allies against cthulhoid dangers and occult secret societies like the Black Sun. As a result, the characters usually have a military background (although civilians are also playable) and are sent on dangerous missions by Section M.

The setting is much more action-oriented, and, in contrast to the classic Cthulhu, investigative work has less importance. While the rules initially focus on "smaller" creatures of the mythos, the player characters are allowed to save the world at times in the published campaigns.

Achtung! Cthulhu follows the classic tradition and is divided into two books: The Investigator's Guide is aimed at players and describes character creation. Apart from a clear chronological outline, the setting is presented from a military point of view, but also from the perspective of "normal" life.

In the new edition, the rules are adapted to Cthulhu in the 7th edition. All background texts and other information are unchanged from the previous version. The rules to play the setting with Savage Worlds rules are removed, so the books focus on one rules system. Accordingly, redundant information from the Cthulhu core rulebooks like the regular spells or books of the mythos is now missing. Therefore new material like spells or enemies - including experiments of the Nazis with mythos powers - is now provided.

Achtung! Cthulhu is a significantly different setting from the classic Cthulhu because here, the action is more important than library research. Fights are more frequent. Because of the background with Section M, this setting offers a clear structure for campaigns. With the military context, the players get much more robust and better-equipped characters. Personally, for me, the approach of combining the real horrors of war with the fictional horrors of mythos does not always feel right, and, e.g., the Black Sun as a mixture of Nazis and cultists seems a bit one-dimensional. Whether you need game statistics for tanks to use them against the horrors of the mythos is also questionable, in my opinion. On the other hand, the approach that the characters are in the service of a secret organization and have to pass dangerous missions as agents provides a lot of potentials. World War II is a background where major mythos outbreaks are possible, which are overlooked in the turmoil of war. In the end, the background is a matter of personal taste or what you make of it. Based on the ideas and the extensive material, Achtung! Cthulhu definitely offers a challenging and exciting setting for the fight against the Great Old Ones.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu  - 7th edition Investigator's Guide
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Achtung! Cthulhu - 7th edition Keeper's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 13:55:14

Mythos secrets to use against Section M agents - a Mephisto review

Achtung! Cthulhu 7th Edition

The horror of the Great Old Ones of the Cthulhu mythos is timeless, and various roleplaying games have covered the fight against this horror from the Stone Age to the distant future. Achtung! Cthulhu takes the plot from the primary setting of the '20s and '30s further into World War II.

Achtung! Cthulhu focuses on the secret war, in which the horrors of the mythos play a role on the battlefields. The world is not only threatened by the horrors of war. The player characters are recruited by the mysterious secret Section M, which fights for the Allies against cthulhoid dangers and occult secret societies like the Black Sun. As a result, the characters usually have a military background (although civilians are also playable) and are sent on dangerous missions by Section M.

The setting is much more action-oriented, and, in contrast to the classic Cthulhu, investigative work has less importance. While the rules initially focus on "smaller" creatures of the mythos, the player characters are allowed to save the world at times in the published campaigns.

Achtung! Cthulhu follows the classic tradition and is divided into two books: All information about the Cthulhu mythos is contained in the Keeper's Guide for the game master. Here enemies, conspiracies, spells, monsters, and the like are included.

In the new edition, the rules are adapted to Cthulhu in the 7th edition. All background texts and other information are unchanged from the previous version. The rules to play the setting with Savage Worlds rules are removed, so the books focus on one rules system. Accordingly, redundant information from the Cthulhu core rulebooks like the regular spells or books of the mythos is now missing. Therefore new material like spells or enemies - including experiments of the Nazis with mythos powers - is now provided.

Achtung! Cthulhu is a significantly different setting from the classic Cthulhu because here, the action is more important than library research. Fights are more frequent. Because of the background with Section M, this setting offers a clear structure for campaigns. With the military context, the players get much more robust and better-equipped characters. Personally, for me, the approach of combining the real horrors of war with the fictional horrors of mythos does not always feel right, and, e.g., the Black Sun as a mixture of Nazis and cultists seems a bit one-dimensional. Whether you need game statistics for tanks to use them against the horrors of the mythos is also questionable, in my opinion. On the other hand, the approach that the characters are in the service of a secret organization and have to pass dangerous missions as agents provides a lot of potentials. World War II is a background where major mythos outbreaks are possible, which are overlooked in the turmoil of war. In the end, the background is a matter of personal taste or what you make of it. Based on the ideas and the extensive material, Achtung! Cthulhu definitely offers a challenging and exciting setting for the fight against the Great Old Ones.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu  - 7th edition Keeper's Guide
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Under the Gun (7th Edition)
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 13:51:06

A quick mission for Section M agents - a Mephisto review

Under the Gun

Compatible with the new rules for Achtung! Cthulhu, Modiphius has also released Under the Gun, a short intro adventure. The investigators are called to Dover, where a fantastic discovery has been made here while building defenses inside the chalk cliffs. It's up to the players to investigate.

Under the Gun is a very short adventure, which is especially suited to introduce new players to the setting of Achtung! Cthulhu. Players are allowed to complete a short investigation before they have to engage various enemies in combat. In this respect, the adventure is suitable to get to know the basic setting as well as typical rules - especially the combat rules. In fact, from my point of view, the background of the story would have had much more potential, so that the game master can either expand the setting or use it as a first introduction to the world of Achtung! Cthulhu. As a quick setting for the first start, Under the Gun is quite suitable, but for veterans, it might be much too short.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Under the Gun (7th Edition)
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Things from the Flood RPG: Rulebook
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 13:48:33

More mysteries of the Loop in darker times - a Mephisto review

Things from the Flood

The dreams and hopes of the 80s are over. The technical advances and miracles promised by the particle accelerator, known as the Loop, have not come true. A mysterious flood has turned part of Färingsö into a wasteland overnight. Because of the black water, possibly contaminated with strange substances, the area has been evacuated. Not only have the Loop's robots developed an anomaly called machine cancer sometime later, but this mysterious malfunction, resulting in tumor-like growth, has soon affected other machines as well. The Russian artificial intelligence program has proved a failure, and the last of these robots have fled and gone into hiding before being destroyed. Even the attempt to save the Loop by a take-over by the Krafta corporation was unsuccessful. And the company has not remedied the damages either. Also, the magnetrine ships, which promised so much potential as a flying, energy-saving means of transport, have eventually turned out to be a failure.

Things from the Flood continues Tales from the Loop, leading the roleplaying setting from the 1980s to the 1990s. While the 80s were still full of promise and optimism, these alternative 90s turn out to be a time in which these hopes were shattered. The characters who were still children in Tales from the Loop have now become teenagers - with all their advantages, but above all, with all their problems. The complicated relationships between the characters play a significant role, as well as their problems and the things they are ashamed of. As before, the characters are created from ten archetypes, defined by four attributes and several skills. The game mechanisms are simple: For the tests, attributes and skills are added for the dice pool. Every 6 rolled on the six-sided dice is a success. Fights do not really matter to the teenagers either - in a real fight; the characters have no chance. Accordingly, there are no health points or health levels but failed tests can cause the player characters to suffer so-called states leaving them scared or exhausted, which makes their tests more difficult. If things go very badly, permanent scars may remain, or player characters may even be eliminated from the game entirely.

While the basic system of rules is simple and pragmatic and fits well with the background, Things from the Flood takes an in-depth look at how individual stories need to be constructed to maintain the mysterious atmosphere of the game. The idea here is that the area around the Loop still holds countless secrets for the player characters to stumble into. The game tries to combine these mysterious elements, which revolve around strange machines, robots, time travel, or maybe even aliens, with the everyday problems of the characters. In keeping with the setting, in which many things seem to have gone wrong, the characters also have their teenage problems - be it families that break up, alcoholism of the parents, or even severe lovesickness.

While the book presents the 90s with some specified events, the focus to convey a certain atmosphere of the 90s. The primary setting is the Loop in Sweden or for the alternative scenario of the Loop in America (here it's a rupture of the Hoover Dam that leads to a flood). Some of the fictitious developments are presented as facts, but several elements remain open in such a way that the game master can find his own truth here - or simply leave these questions open.

The book then presents tips for playing the game. On the one hand, there is the so-called Mystery Landscape, which is intended as an open-world approach and puts many secrets on the map. It is up to the player characters which of these stories they want to explore. Besides, there are four complete adventures, which can be played individually or linked together and which pick up the primary themes of the game.

Of course, this book is also influenced by the illustrations by Simon Stålenhag, whose mixture of everyday motifs with strange technology perfectly conveys the atmosphere of the game. Actually, it is the other way round: the roleplaying game is inspired by the stunning visual worlds of Stålenhag.

For me, Things from the Flood is an excellent roleplaying game that creates a perfect combination of its elements. The mixture of the complicated teenager life with the 90s offers an intriguing setting. The idea of letting the player characters dive into mysterious conspiracies on the one hand, and on the other hand, still addressing their everyday problems creates a thrilling contrast. The rule mechanisms are accordingly simple but easy to understand and coherent so that, above all, the story stays on the centerstage. The design and development of the setting seem logical and offer an exciting world in which there is a lot to explore - also for the game master, who is given enough degrees of freedom to develop his own stories. This excellent approach combined with the outstanding illustrations, which offer a glimpse into a world that is so familiar on the one hand and yet so alien on the other hand, results in a roleplaying game that is really appealing to relive one youth in the 90s - enriched by robots, conspiracies, monsters and other things that for us back then only existed in the corresponding TV series. I think that Things from the Flood is an absolute recommendation and a real roleplaying highlight for those who are attracted to the genre.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Things from the Flood RPG: Rulebook
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Yours to Keep: A Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition Jumpstart
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 13:44:53

Small appetizer from the world of Changeling - a Mephisto review

Yours to keep

Coinciding with the 20th-anniversary edition of Changeling, there is also a corresponding jumpstart book for the World of Darkness system, which focuses on the changelings – fairy creatures in our world.

The book consists of two parts – the background and rules section and an adventure. The background is presented here in a concise form and introduces, for example, the kith (the types of changelings), and the houses in which they are organized. The rest of the setting is also summarized within four pages and offers only a rough sketch. As a refresher for changeling veterans, this approach may work, but for newcomers, information is very scarce. The combat rules and cantrips (the magical powers of the changelings) are also present in a compact and correspondingly superficial manner. Since the adventure contains several ready-made sample characters, only their cantrips are explained directly with the characters.

The adventure Yours to keep takes the characters to Point Avalon, a setting in which several power groups meet, which are not only divided between Seelie and Unseelie courts. The adventure is structured into short scenes and has a fairly clear course, but the game master has to make some decisions who is responsible for which developments. The book concludes with the five ready-to-play characters.

The idea of the jumpstart for Changeling is undoubtedly a good one, as this system is likely to be one of the least known games in the World of Darkness line. But to combine an overview of setting and rules with an adventure within about 40 pages is too ambitious. For players who know Changeling or at least have heard about the basics, the setting chapter is a good starting point for a quick re-entry. The same goes for the rules. In my opinion, the adventure doesn't guide a novice gamemaster well enough, either. Although the jumpstart made me want to read Changeling 20th Anniversary Edition, I think this appetizer is too small, so it's only suitable for a first quick impression.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Yours to Keep: A Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition Jumpstart
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Legacy of Lies: A V20 Dark Ages Jumpstart
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 13:42:19

Quick start into the Dark Ages of Vampire - a Mephisto review

Legacy of Lies

During the War of Princes, Marcus Verus, Prince of Chester, faces a tough decision in the world of Vampire: Dark Ages. If his plans become known, they could quickly force his opponents into action. To protect himself, he needs the help of some unknown, young vampires - and this is where the player characters come into play...

Legacy of Lies is the jumpstart book for Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition Dark Ages, designed to give a first impression of and a quick start into the game. The book, therefore, consists of two parts: a rules introduction and a complete adventure. On about 40 pages, a quick introduction into setting and rules is given, which presents a large part of the aspects of the game well, but doesn't contain the full set of rules, of course. For example, only five of the clans are mentioned, but their basic disciplines are included here.

The adventure is aimed at beginners, who can start directly with five ready-made characters (character creation is left out in this book). In several elaborate scenes, the vampires work in the service of the Prince of Chester. They have to enter into a multi-faceted conspiracy that needs to be solved. This mission may require diplomacy, as well as a few fights. The setting is well suited for a more extended chronicle based on the plot. A few starting points are provided for this.

Legacy of Lies is in itself an excellent starter package for Vampire: Dark Ages, which presents the essential rules and background information as well as an adventure to try out the setting and game mechanisms directly. In the electronic version, it has (in contrast to the more expensive softcover) a low price quite suitable for trying out the game. However, once you've tasted blood regarding Vampire: Dark Ages, you won't be able to get around buying the core book for the full anniversary rules.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legacy of Lies: A V20 Dark Ages Jumpstart
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The Cthulhu Hack: Mother's Love
Publisher: Just Crunch Games
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 13:39:34

Three stories about a dark mother - a Mephisto review

Mother's Love

Even though Mother's Love sounds like a heart-warming title, knowing that this is an adventure book for Cthulhu Hack quickly twists this feeling. Of course, the book is about Shub-Niggurath, whose spawn and cultists are the central theme in the three adventures. In one case, the story revolves around a missing child, and an orphanage in northern Canada (Deep Roots), another around a theatre troupe that is in mortal danger on Malta (Ggantija), and the third one combines the mythos with Greek myths (Gifts of the Flesh)...

The three stories are quite varied, even though the same mythical entity lurks at their core. Deep Roots is a pretty classic story, that can quickly come to a bad end. Ggantija skillfully uses Maltese history combined with bigger conspiracies and presents the players with a hard challenge. Gifts of the Flesh combines a different myth with Shub-Niggurath and thus takes the characters into a somewhat surreal setting.

Even though I liked the basic idea of the last adventure much better than its elaboration, and as the story of the first adventure is quite conventional, from my point of view, the episode on Malta offers a great combination of action and thrilling background. Mother's love offers three exceptional interpretations of a Mythos power for Cthulhu Hack, which unfortunately doesn't come close to the – in my view – outstanding predecessor Three Faces of the Wendigo. Despite this comparison, Mother's Love still offers three challenging adventures for Cthulhu Hack.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Cthulhu Hack: Mother's Love
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Urban Shadows: Los Cazados (1st Ed.)
Publisher: Magpie Games
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 13:36:50

Werewolves Powered by the Apocalypse - a Mephisto review

Los Cazados

An evil, supernatural force tried to break through to earth a long time ago in Central America – but it was beaten back by brave warriors. In revenge, however, a curse struck the warriors, changing them into a mixture of wolf and human. With the European conquerors, new evil spirits came to reassemble this dark power, which is only called La Madre, and the werewolves became "Los Cazados" - the hunted...

Los Cazados is based on the Apocalypse World rules and loosely ties in with Urban Shadows. On just five pages, Los Cazados offers a sketch of a setting and a few rules to play this game independently. The three statistics are arranged in a way that a high value is not necessarily good. The statistic Furia, for example, makes it easier to unleash the inner wolf to stop opponents – but it makes it difficult to live together with family and allies. However, many tests are not based on the statistics but get bonuses/penalties based on the circumstances, which are checked by simple questions. In addition to their fighting skills, Los Cazados also have rituals that help them.

Los Cazados looks like the extremely condensed version of Werewolf with Mexican backgrounds. The setting is, at best, loosely associated with Urban Shadows. Even though many elements are familiar, the game setting is described very vaguely. A roleplaying game could hardly be more compressed, but it requires some previous knowledge about Apocalypse World to understand the concepts fully. The concepts Los Cazados convey are exciting and can – if the group finds its own truth – provide a fast start to play werewolf setting.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Shadows: Los Cazados (1st Ed.)
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